As it became harder and harder for Joe Witherspoon's motorcycle accessories & parts business to compete with the online world, he opened a bike shop within the same physical location 4 years ago. Since the moto business is primarily online, Joe built his brick and mortar bike retail business to be quite unique in the Bay area.
Name and Title:
Joe Witherspoon, Owner of Suburban Bikes in Redwood City, CA
How is your motorcycle business different than your bike business?
The motorcycle business is a much lower margin business than in the bike world. The parts & accessories that we are selling have for the most part become online commodities, and competing with other bigger online retailers is difficult. Showrooming is a huge problem on the moto side. The bike business is a nice complement to our moto business and is more brick and mortar focused. The combination makes for a very unique offering too.
How did your business end up for Q1? 2013?
The quarter just ended and it seems like we're off to an awesome start this year. We've been fortunate to have had some great weather, and that certainly helped. 2013 was up over 2012 and we're expecting more growth this year. Last October we opened a second store focused on electric bicycles in the heart of San Francisco and so we think with the two locations we'll do pretty well this year.
What is your outlook for 2014?
I think we're on track to have a banner year. The economy seems to be back, and bikes are selling. We've learned a lot about what works and doesn't work in the bike world and we're focusing on the brands that have high sales turn over and great consumer demand on products you can't find at every shop.
What sets you apart from your competitors?
It's important that we focus on offering something unique in the market place. We focus on a few brands with great products that work in our area that haven't completely saturated the market. In addition to road and urban commuter bikes we have invested heavily in the e-bike market. In fact, we opened a second location recently that focuses on the e-bike/urban mobility customer.
What does Interbike do for your business?
Interbike gives us some vision to the trends happening now and in the coming years. We take the time to test product, like the e-bikes on the outdoor test track, and meet with many vendors over the course of a few days. The face-time with people and the ability to talk either at a booth or over a beer is priceless.